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Decathlon Event 4: Best of One Standard with Gift Bag Emblem Guide and Decklists

MTG Arena will be hosting a special series of events called the Decathlon. Ten events with a variety of formats spanning fifteen days will be culminating to one final event for a chance to win some big prizes, including TWO copies of each card in the upcoming Phyrexia: All Will Be One set! This guide will contain everything you need to know about the Pauper event including the schedule, rewards and our exclusive sample decklists.


Event Details

  • Duration: January 4, 2023 @ 8:00 AM PST to January 7, 2023 @ 8:00 AM PST
  • Format: Standard with Gift Bag Emblem
  • Entry Fee: 2,000 Gold or 400 Gems
  • Ends After: 7 wins or 3 losses, whichever comes first
  • Match Structure: Best-of-one matches (BO1)

Gift Bag Emblem

At the beginning of your upkeep, choose one that hasn’t been chosen:

Rewards

WinsReward
7 wins4,000 Gold + Decathlon token
5-6 wins3 packs
3–4 wins2 packs
1-2 wins1 pack
0 winsNo rewards
Entry RewardBronze Sundering Titan Sleeve
Bronze [card name=
Arena Decathlete Sleeve

Pack Rewards

Packs awarded during Decathlon events can be from sets legal in Historic, Standard, and can even include the new Alchemy: Innistrad packs:

  • Standard main set: 40%
  • Non-Standard main set pack: 40%
  • Alchemy set – 10%
  • Mythic pack: 10%

Banned List

You can enter the Decathlon events as many times as you want, but you can only get one decathlon token from each event. You also need to get three different tokens to be able to enter the finals so make plans to play other events if you want to get your hands on some of those sweet finals prizes.


The Top Standard Decks

While the Gift Bag Emblem does change things up slightly, it’s only going to make a difference on the first three turns in a sense. Furthermore, getting a Treasure, Food, and Clue can be impactful depending on one’s curve, but not so much so that I would recommend vastly different decks than the best Bo1 decks to begin with. However, we can switch around some recommendations as while these tokens aren’t super high impact, they’re far from negligible.

Mono White Soldiers / Azorius Soldiers

Mono White Soldiers
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $117.98
Standard
Tribal
best of 1
4 mythic
24 rare
12 uncommon
20 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (1)
Sorceries (4)
4
Lay Down Arms
$1.00
Lands (24)
20
Plains
$5.00
60 Cards
$160.32
Azorius Soldiers
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $102.93
Standard
Tribal
best of 1
1 mythic
39 rare
16 uncommon
4 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+

The most obvious choice for this event would be the top deck in Bo1! While it’s still somewhat nebulous which Soldiers variant is better, both of them excel in Bo1 and have been performing substantially better than other decks since their inception. This is the base level of the format.

Mono Black Aggro

Mono Black Aggro
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $332.3
Standard
Aggro
best of 1
10 mythic
20 rare
11 uncommon
19 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Instants (8)
4
Cut Down
$5.16
Lands (24)
19
Swamp
$4.75
60 Cards
$415.96

If Soldiers is the base level of the format, we can use that information to make some meta choices! While Mono Black Aggro isn’t as aggressive as Soldiers, you get access to a bunch of cheap removal which can be invaluable to taking out their key threats!

Mono Black Midrange

Mono Black Midrange
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $320.48
Standard
Midrange
best of 1
8 mythic
21 rare
9 uncommon
22 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (2)
Instants (8)
4
Cut Down
$5.16
Sorceries (4)
4
Invoke Despair
$3.16
Artifacts (3)
Lands (25)
22
Swamp
$5.50
1
Field of Ruin
$0.25
60 Cards
$384.92

We can take this idea even further and go for Mono Black Midrange! The list is relatively similar to Aggro, but obviously we’re giving up all the aggressive elements to go a bit bigger. This version still has plenty of removal, but since you’re looking to play a slower game, you can make much better use of the Food and Clue token than other strategies.

Naya Humans

Bo1 Naya Humans
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $299.16
Standard
Tribal
best of 1
6 mythic
39 rare
8 uncommon
7 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (2)
Instants (2)
2
Valorous Stance
$0.50
Lands (24)
7
Plains
$1.75
1
Brushland
$1.99
2
Sundown Pass
$15.98
4
Plaza of Heroes
$33.96
60 Cards
$280.58
15 Cards
$134.45

If you want to stay aggressive, but don’t want to go overkill with metagaming, Naya Humans could be another strong choice. Humans goes a bit bigger than your typical aggressive deck with the inclusion of Halana and Alena, Partners, so this could be a good middle ground between metagaming and a good choice.

Mono Red Ramp

Mono Red Ramp
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $173.07
Standard
Ramp
best of 1
7 mythic
26 rare
3 uncommon
24 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Creatures (11)
4
Thran Spider
$1.40
Instants (7)
4
Voltage Surge
$1.00
3
Abrade
$0.75
Sorceries (6)
Artifacts (6)
Enchantments (4)
Lands (26)
18
Mountain
$4.50
4
Blast Zone
$2.36
60 Cards
$259.26

On the complete other end of the spectrum, we have a completely metagamed list! With a huge amount of removal into huge late game payoffs, this deck could fare well in a field of aggro decks and decks looking to take advantage of the aggressive metagame! This is a complete theorycraft so it is a bit of a risk, but if you like living on the edge, this can be a great gamble!


Decathlon 4: Standard 7 Win Decklists

Check out the variety of 7 win decklists from the community also!


Past Events

Hey everyone! Wizards has thrown down the gauntlet for us to test our skills in the MTG Arena Decathlon. It’s a series of events that culminate in a finals where you can win a pile of goodies including a full set of Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty and an exclusive Jace, the Mind Sculptor avatar. The opening leg of the Decathlon is the first time on MTG Arena that we get to try a combined Midnight Hunt and Crimson Vow sealed event.


Event Details

  • Duration: December 18, 2021 @ 8:00 AM PST to December 20, 2021 @ 8:00 AM PST
  • Format: Phantom Sealed: Three packs each of Innistrad: Midnight Hunt and Innistrad: Crimson Vow
  • Entry Fee: 2,000 Gold or 400 Gems
  • Ends After: 7 wins or 3 losses, whichever comes first
  • Match Structure: Best-of-one matches (BO1)

Rewards

WinsReward
7 wins3,000 Gold + Decathlon token
6 wins3 packs
5 wins2 packs
3–4 wins1 pack
0–2 winsNo rewards
Entry RewardArena Decathlete Sleeve
Decathlete sleeve with armored gladiator leaping into a fight
Arena Decathlete Sleeve

Packs awarded during Decathlon events can be from sets legal in Historic, Standard, and can even include the new Alchemy: Innistrad packs:

  • Alchemy: Innistrad pack: 20%
  • Standard set pack: 40%
  • Historic set pack: 40%

You can enter the Decathlon events as many times as you want, but you can only get one decathlon token from each event. You also need to get three different tokens to be able to enter the finals so make plans to play other events if you want to get your hands on some of those sweet finals prizes.

While it is relatively cheap to enter these events, you don’t get any currency back until you get to 7 wins so it can turn into a bit of a cash sink. On the other hand, if you just enjoy the Sealed experience, this is a bargain compared to the normal events (with the caveat that you don’t get to keep any cards from your sealed pool).


Building Your Sealed

Dreadfeast Demon Art by Andrew Mar
Dreadfeast Demon Art by Andrew Mar

No matter what advice I give you, obviously the first thing you’re going to do when you open your sealed is to check if you won the rare lottery. So we’ll start after you’ve done the victory lap around the room for your triple Mythic Rare open.

Now that you’ve settled down, the first thing I like to do is to add all the cards that I actively want to play so I have a better idea of how deep each color really is. This prevents you from thinking “my Black is really awesome” when you actually have a lot of undesirable cards with a few that really stand out. 

The next thing I want to look at is what mana fixing you have available. This can let you know whether you can splash your power cards or if you need to try to build a more aggressive deck.

Unless your sealed was insane, it’s usually pretty easy to eliminate two colors that just don’t get there. Now look over the remaining colors and make combinations of two color decks to compare which have the best mix of curve and power level. You can also see if any of the combinations are missing something like removal or a way to finish the game. 

When you’re comparing the two color versions, you are probably going to be a few cards short so try to fill in the gaps with splashed single pip removal or power cards. Once you make your final choice, you’re just a mana base away from running the table.


Tips and Tricks

  • Set specific payoffs tend to be worse in combined formats since the cards are split between both sets.
  • Black was a top two color in both sets so it should be the top color in this event.
  • Sealed is slower than draft so you will have more time to draw cards and play out your splashed cards.
  • Evolving Wilds is always making the cut in your deck. Don’t overthink this, just put it in.
  • Think about which cards are going to perform better with cards from the other set for example Necroduality with all of Midnight Hunts Zombies.
  • Individual exploit cards will be better than they were in VOW because of the addition of decayed tokens. Being able to sacrifice an incidental token instead of an actual card is a huge difference.
  • While it’s going to be tempting to try to build the Festival Crasher and Kessig Flamebreather deck, it’s going to be very unlikely that you get a combination of enough of each along with a density of spells to make it worth it.

Top 5 Commons of Each Color

White

Traveling Minister gets the nod for me as the top white common as it changes the entire flow of the game for one mana. Incidental life gain while pushing extra damage is a huge payoff for such a small investment and should play just as well in a mixed format.

Fierce Retribution is unconditional removal for six mana while providing the out of being able to Doom Blade an attacker. The expensive side isn’t as big of a drawback in sealed as it is in draft so that bumps this up and makes it a splash candidate.

Lunarch Veteran provides both incidental life gain and card advantage by coming back as a flyer. This was a huge overperformer in MID and I don’t see that changing here.

Search Party Captain isn’t hard to play for two or three mana providing card advantage and a bear. This type of “free” creature plays very well in sealed and gets better in multiples.

Sigarda's Imprisonment is a fine card as long as your opponent isn’t playing exploit or ways to gain a benefit off of the imprisoned creature. While there are only half as many packs of exploit available there are new cards like Ecstatic Awakener that will still gladly munch them up. This should still be great against any non-Dimir deck.


Blue

Organ Hoarder was the “mythic common” of Midnight Hunt and it is going to be just as nuts alongside VOW. This is another card that I would happily splash into almost any deck that can support it. 

Revenge of the Drowned acts as an instant speed removal plus a free zombie. This would be a very playable card without the bonus 2/2, but now that decayed tokens can be exploited it has even more value.

Flip the Switch is one of the best limited tempo counters we’ve seen in awhile. Even in the late game, it’s never fully dead because you still get that zombie.

Falcon Abomination provides an evasive creature along with an extra body on the ground for the low cost of three mana. This can lead to great starts like turn two Olivia's Midnight Ambush, turn three Falcon Abomination, turn 4 Repository Skaab sac your free zombie to get back Olivia's Midnight Ambush.

Syncopate might seem controversial here, but you have to remember that sealed is slower and more likely to revolve around who has more powerful cards. Removal is at a premium and the ability to answer anything is much stronger when you don’t have to worry about getting run over as quickly.


Black

Bleed Dry is the no restrictions removal spell of choice out of these sets. Instant speed, hits everything, gets around indestructible, and exiles in a format full of disturb. The only knock on this is the difficulty in splashing it.

Diregraf Horde is a total beast bringing seven power down while wrecking your opponent’s graveyard. While there are only half the flashback spells, there are still plenty of disturb and recurrence in VOW to hit. Diregraf Horde was responsible for an insane amount of bad beat stories from Midnight Hunt.

Ecstatic Awakener might be a little worse than it was in MID with less decayed tokens floating around, but still plays great with some of the VOW exploit fodder like Doomed Dissenter and Wretched Throng.

Diregraf Scavenger is just a miniature Diregraf Horde which means it’s still a great card and the life drain with a deathtoucher can make life miserable for your opponent.

Defenestrate and Eaten Alive are kind of lumped together as great removal with a drawback. They are still very good and always going to make your deck if you are playing black, but the drawbacks are real.


Red

Abrade is just a great efficient removal spell that provides coverage for troublesome artifacts. It’s always been awesome in limited and I don’t see that changing here. 

Flame-Blessed Bolt might be even better with MID in the mix with even more disturb creatures floating around. There are times when this card singlehandedly wins tempo battles making it an easy inclusion in any red deck.

Burn the Accursed blows Lacerate Flesh out of the water in the five mana red removal competition. This is pretty close to unconditional removal, but unfortunately misses some of the bombs like Dreadfeast Demon.

Falkenrath Celebrants should play out better in sealed than draft as you have more time and less blood production turning this into a draw two. Just a great top end card that I would consider a solid splash in a deck that needs the card selection.

Moonrager's Slash is still just an efficient removal spell whether or not you can flip it to night.


Green

Shadowbeast Sighting will actually give the VOW UG self mill cards a relevant payoff to hit. Just a solid creature that comes back for seconds. I think this will play better in this combo since VOW has much better green cards than MID.  

Weaver of Blossoms value goes up in sealed because it provides an easy way to splash powerful cards. I’ll happily play as many of these as I get in any green deck. 

Flourishing Hunter is easier to play in the slower sealed formats and provides a huge body with some game stabilizing lifegain thrown into the deal.  

Eccentric Farmer is still a great card, but goes down a bit as VOW lacks payoffs to hit. It’s still an acceptable body that almost always replaces itself. 

Wolf Strike is the bite spell of the set and as long as you have some decent creatures this is almost three mana instant speed removal. Just be very careful when you play this as a blowout can be devastating.


Wrap Up

This should be a really fun experience since it’s almost a pseudo prerelease of this set combination. Hopefully this guide will get you a head start in that race for the first Decathlon medal.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

You can find me at:

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DoggertQBones
DoggertQBones

Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on
Twitch and Discord.

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